Smart home provider Wink has some bad news for existing customers: Unless they opt into a new $4.99 monthly subscription plan by May 13, customers will basically lose internet access to their Wink products.
The company announced the mandatory subscription plan to keep it financially afloat during the pandemic. “Wink has taken many steps in an effort to keep your Hub’s blue light on, however, long term costs and recent economic events have caused additional strain on our business,” the company wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.
The same post then adds: “Should you choose not to sign up for a subscription you will no longer be able to access your Wink devices from the app, with voice control or through the API, and your automations will be disabled on May 13.”
To no surprise, the news is sparking outrage among customers. “You announce this one week before cutting off service? This is not acceptable,” wrote one user on Twitter.
Wink’s business model had previously relied on the one-time fee customers pay for its smart home products to cover the company’s operations. This includes the costs of running Wink’s cloud servers, which enable customer smartphones to control Wink products over the internet.
For $199, you can buy Wink’s “Lookout” package, which bundles in the company’s main product, a smart home hub. The device is capable of connecting to a wide variety of smart appliances — including light bulbs, electrical outlets and security cameras —offering customers easy access to manage them all.
But now Wink is threatening to disable the hub’s main functions unless owners pay into the $4.99 subscription plan. “This fee is designed to be as modest as possible,” the company added in the blog post. “Your support will enable us to continue providing you with the functionality that you’ve come to rely on, and focus on accelerating new integrations and app features.”
Perhaps the only good news is that the company says it’s refusing to sell or monetize customers’ data to offset the costs. However, many customers on Twitter say they plan on ditching the company. “1 week notice? I will spend $200 on a new hub before giving you one more nickel,” wrote another user.
Wink is owned by i.am+, which is best known as a tech company founded by rapper Will.i.am. Last year, The Verge reported that i.am+ was running out of funds, resulting in some workers at Wink not getting paid.